Berks Jazz Fest 2008: Chris Botti

Berks08_Botti.jpgTrumpet player Chris Botti played at the Sovereign Performing Arts Centre Saturday evening, the concert was sold-out and expectations were running high. The leader was accompanied by a stellar group of players, he had Mark Whitfield on guitar, the outstanding Billy Kilson on drums, Robert Hurst on acoustic and electric bass and Peter Martin on piano and keyboards with him. He opened his show with "Ave Maria" which soon changed into a twisted funky groove with mind-boggling interplay between the guitar of Mark Whitfield and the complex drumming of Billy Kilson. The material on display ranged from opera ("Caruso") to Leonard Cohen compositions but no matter what source the music came from, it always kept a tremendous tension, oszillating between the introspective and the expressive, yielding a music experience that just was out of this world. The band provided some serious jazz, the interplay between these world-class players was a joy to hear and watch. The icing on the cake was singer Sy Smith with her crystal clear voice and great jazz phrasing who delivered a few songs. This show was a true highlight and the best concert at the festival so far. Chris Botti is in a class of his own and witnessing him and his band live is always great.